I've never been one to job hop. I like to get to know the people I work with. Indeed, in my line of work, you can't be of much use to a company if you don't fully understand the culture and the people that go into the organisation. Coming in for a few months as a "hired hit-man" can bring in a lot of cash, but the results and what people are left with after the fact is just not good enough. So when I accept a job, I have always had the attitude of "this may be the job I have until I'm on this Earth no longer" -- my idea of retirement is pretty much keeling over at my desk at work.
I've been with this employer for about a decade. I have enjoyed pretty much every minute of it. There was a lot of work to do, and the last few years has been incredibly rewarding.
I've often compared the age of a company to it's maturity level. When I joined it was only a few years old, so as it matured I got to experience an incredibly rewarding sense of growth within the organisation and their place in the industry.
But here we were…Nook and I engaged, and I had a new job offer on the other side of the planet.
I couldn't quit my job until the paperwork for the new one was sorted out, and until I'd fully discussed the matter with Nook. Now that the paperwork was signed, and I consumed a few Duvels in the process, it seemed only right and fair that I bring the matter to my employer.
It's not an easy conversation to have. When you truly enjoy your work, and you have put your all into your job for so long, having to let your employer know you're moving on can bring on a sense of disappointment -- that you are letting them down. But you have to tell yourself that it is just a job, after all, and there are more important things to consider in life than work. For the first time, perhaps ever, I was actually believing those words.
Got a moment to chat?
Now that the decision was made, I merely needed to have the actual conversation. As "luck" would have it, however, my immediate supervisor was actually on his annual holidays at the time, and whilst I'd preferred to have waited till his return, that just wasn't practical. It was the tradition in that part of the world that annual leave can be a three to four week affair, which meant that I'd essentially be delaying my resignation by a month. Given the time considerations for moving to the other side of the planet, and bringing Nook over to me, this just was not practical.
So I had to have the conversation by proxy. A colleague, no, a friend, who was stepping up to be the department head during the annual leave season had the unenviable task of having me pop my head into his office and ask "hey, got a moment to chat?"
He always had time for me, and we frequently had talks about life and work and the various things going on in our worlds. Indeed, he knew a lot of the story of Nook and Chair as it unfolded. He was one of only three people at the organisation who knew, and was I think the first that I SMS'd when Nook said she'd be my wife.
I told myself that he wouldn't be too surprised, given what he knew of the story, but he had no idea at all that I was looking at a job in Australia, much less that I'd taken it. This part was going to come out of the blue.
We talked, I explained that I wished I could have had the conversation with the person whose place he was temporarily taking, but that just wasn't going to be possible. And so it went, we had a brief chat, but the time was come to hand over the slip of paper that I had in my hand. It was a short note, to the point, expressing my enjoyment for the years of service, but also the regret that came with having to inform them that I was moving on, effective immediately.
I handed him the paper.
My heart was thumping away in my chest. This was the No Command-Z moment -- no way to Undo this action. Not that I wanted to in any way, I'd actually been looking quite forward to it for some time. But, still.
Now, those of you who know me know that I'm not one to swear, but in the interest in of accuracy, I have to repeat what my friend and colleague's response was to this letter. It went something like this:
"Oh shit. Are you serious?"
I apologised for having to dump this on him, but, I was trying to do the company a favour. For a variety of reasons (which we'll get back to in another chapter) I am what's known as a Single Point of Contact, or, Single Point of Failure, depending on how you want to look at it. The work that I do requires certain restrictions and not everyone within an organisation can do the work. Indeed, I had tried for several years to change the structure and get some help, but, that didn't work out, and yes, that's part of why I knew I had to leave the organisation.
One of the side effects of being the SPOF is that when you leave, a lot of things, processes and systems, can break. What was running on automatic suddenly need a lot of manual intervention to continue to work.
My employment contract required that I give essentially one calendar month's notice, starting with the first day of the next calendar month after one hands in their notice. Given that it was the first week of August, this meant that I should hand in my notice the last day of August and work through September.
But I'm a nice guy. And I knew the complexities that my employer was going to have with finding a replacement, so I handed in my notice at the start of August, which essentially gave nearly two full months of heads-up time to work on a plan.
In fact, as I had been working on this exit strategy for a few years, I had gone so far as to itemise all of my work tasks, how they were performed, and the key areas which will need handover. In total, there were 172 unique tasks, each of which was broken down into a number of sub-categories and sub-tasks.
Of course, that wasn't the total list of what I did -- the company that I was working for had a somewhat peculiar mentality for much of their existence. They felt that nearly everyone in the department should be able to do every task. It was anti-specialisation, anti-expertise. This is fine when a group is small, but is completely unscalable. Thankfully, a manager came along a number of years ago who tried to great some clusters of experts within the overall group, but that was slow going and there was a lot of resistance to this change initially.
As I'd been there a decade, there was a lot of knowledge about a lot of things that had accumulated, and that I put to use nearly every day. Being a morning person meant that I was usually at the office by around 0600 every day, and tended to leave around 1445 to 1500 (and, naturally, being a computer person, I worked from home in the evenings, till around 2300 most nights). This meant that if something required attention before my colleagues would appear at the office, I'd often help out and step in on a plethora of tasks which weren't my main focus, but needed doing.
What all this boiled down to was that there was a lot of work to do for my employer to make sure that "coverage" for tasks and obligations was dealt with. Not just my work, but the work that I was doing for others outside of their work hours.
This was going to be interesting.
Fly on the wall.
After I told my friend and temporary boss that I was resigning, I knew that he had some phone calls to make. He called my boss, who was on holiday, and broke the news. As a very good friend of mine is prone to saying: "I bet that went over like a poop in a punchbowl." -- what I would have given to have been a fly on that particular wall.
I was told that he nearly cancelled his holidays to deal with this. In hindsight, that would have been a VERY good idea (we'll get back to this), but he went away.
The CEO was also called, as if there wasn't someone doing my job, the CEO could quite easily go to jail. In fact, I joked with one of his predecessors during my annual review that any day that he wasn't in jail was a day I deserved a bonus. Oh how we laughed.
It was done. I had quit. I called Nook and told her, and went home at my normal time. I didn't tell anyone else at work that day, as it was a topic that needed discussing by the senior management. I did, however, go home with a serious spring in my step. I also recall going to the pub and helping deplete their stocks of Duvel. And possibly a whisky or four.